No risk means no tours for Indian hockey teams

The camp for the men’s team has been extended till November 28 while the women’s hockey team will be in Bengaluru till December 12.

By Rahul Venkat

The men’s and women’s Indian hockey teams will continue training at the ongoing national camps at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru for two more months.

“The hockey camps for both the teams have been extended. The men's team camp has been extended till November 28 while the women's camp will be till December 12,” an SAI official told the Press Trust of India.

The national camp for the men’s team, which began on August 19, was to end on September 30 as it had planned to travel to the Netherlands for a few practice matches in October.

The intent was to gain some much-needed match practice against European teams ahead of the resumption of the 2020 FIH Pro League season. The Dutch resume their FIH Pro League campaign with two matches against Great Britain in late October.

Women’s team coach Sjoerd Marijne had also hoped to travel to the Netherlands to practice against international opposition, especially since the Indian hockey women’s team has not qualified for the FIH Pro League.

However, that practice tour has now been called off due to the health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The men's team wanted to tour the Netherlands for practice matches but the idea was put off on the recommendation of health experts and chief coaches because of the risk associated with travelling,” the SAI official explained.

The Indian men’s hockey team did not want to take a risk, especially after six members, including skipper Manpreet Singh, had tested COVID-positive last month. All of them have recovered now.

Manpreet Singh was among six hockey players who contracted the coronavirus. Photo: Hockey India

It could affect the men’s team as it last played a professional match against Australia in the FIH Pro League in February.

The Indian hockey men’s team currently fourth in the 202o FIH Pro League standings with 10 points and is not scheduled to begin its campaign until April next year.

The women’s team last played in January, when they travelled to New Zealand for an exhibition tour.